We aim to enhance understanding and appreciation for constitutional liberty, by stimulating inquiry into the nature and meaning of freedom. We regard the freedom of individuals as the bedrock upon which solutions to thorny problems can be built. But, individual freedom flourishes best in the framework of institutions. Constitutional democracy, limited government, and a strong sense of citizenship are essential.
In the United States, these institutions go back to the era of the American Founding and were forged anew in the Civil War. They depend in turn on the Western political experience on which the Founders drew, going back to the Republics of classical antiquity.
Today’s world is truly global, exciting, and dangerous. So much has changed, and yet individual freedom within the framework of constitutional liberty continues to offer the best hope for human prosperity and happiness. We acknowledge that these ideals are under challenge in the world today and that they need to be defended.
We welcome debate. Indeed, freedom requires contests, arguments and disputes.
We want to focus on the most pressing contemporary challenges — the genuine, underlying conflicts in the world. We hope to stimulate debate on fundamental issues. We want to engage in an undertaking that encourages Cornellians to think about big questions with the rigor, dispassion, and lack of partisanship that serious academic inquiry requires. We hope to press questions that encourage thinking about what a university community should say to outsiders or how faculty and students might respond to the basic questions that engage people in the larger world.